The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said any petition to increase the minimum wage of workers at this time of pandemic might force many establishments to shut down operations.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said a petition to increase wages must be studied carefully as employers might not be able to afford it.
Bello said the interests of all parties should be considered before raising wages and any increase of wages might lead to the worst situation such as an increase in unemployment rate.
“If we will grant or recommend the approval of the petition to increase the wage from P537 to P700 or P750, the employers might not be able to afford it. If we increase it, they may be compelled to close down,” Bello said.
Bello said there were businesses whose earnings had suffered leading to a reduction of their workforce.
“ If we again increase the salaries of our workers, the problem could be, this could affect the workers’ employment status,” Bello added.
“We need to study this carefully before we make any drastic move. We need to carefully research this. Can the employers afford it? If they can, then by all means, we will recommend, we adopt the petition of the workers,” the Labor chief said.
However, Bello said if the employers could not afford, the government must be very careful, fearing an increase in the unemployment rate.
Prices of basic commodities prematurely increased in December last year, and continue to rise, pushing labor groups to call for an increase in daily minimum wages to P750 nationwide.
The highest minimum wage is in Metro Manila at P500 to P537. It was last adjusted in 2018.